The Rule of 5 – Read Five Books, Then You’ll Know Enough to “Get Started” on the Path to Understanding

I remember my first couple of weeks of my last level of graduate school days.  This was in pursuit of a PhD in Communication: Rhetoric and Public Address (to my regret,  I never finished my dissertation, thus never got that degree), at the University of Southern California.  Two weeks in, and I was lost.  I already had a Masters, in Religion/Theology, but this was a new field for me.  I read every assignment – and understood basically nothing.  So, I went to see a professor, who told me:

“Just read.  Keep reading.  You won’t understand — and then, all of a sudden, you will.” 

It was good advice.  And, he was right.  After a while (by the end of the semester), I was understanding what I was reading pretty well.  (And, loved it).

I thought of this when I read some advice in 42 Successful People Share The Best Advice They Ever Received from Business Insider.  Here’s the paragraph, (from) Tom Keene, editor-at-large for Bloomberg News and host of Bloomberg Surveillance:

“Everyone can read a book. Some read two books on a topic. Several read three books … As a general rule, to get up to LinkedIn speed on any topic, read five books.
By now (four books) you have figured out exactly how dumb you are…
Get past the one-book and on to the next topic habit. Do the Rule of 5.”

I think this is probably about right.  I know that those times when I read only one book on a subject, I feel “introduced,” but not much else.  The more deeply I study into a subject, tackling additional books, the closer I get to understanding.

The Rule of 5 — good advice!


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